Over 390 million vehicle related recalls have taken place between 1996 and present. This amounts to nearly 200 automobile related recalls annually. These automobile related recalls included more than 60 million pieces of equipment, 45 million tires, and 40 million child safety seats.
In 2009, Toyota was responsible for one of the largest automobile recalls in history. The recall resulted from a defect that caused floor mats to interfere with the gas pedal in some vehicles. The defect contributed to over 2,000 motor vehicle accidents and resulted in 243 injuries and 16 fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is charged with ordering automobile and equipment recalls for safety defects.
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in 1966 to allow the federal government to set safety standards for motor vehicles and road traffic. The Act resulted in the establishment of what is now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Administration’s authority includes requiring manufacturers to recall their automobiles and equipment including, brakes, tires, air bags, and child restraints when they are found to have a safety defect or when they do not meet minimum safety standards.
NHTSA investigates automobiles and equipment when consumer complaints and other data suggest a possible safety defect.
NHTSA utilizes consumer complaints to help determine whether an automobile or equipment has a safety defect that warrants initiating a recall. The Administration encourages individuals who believe that their vehicle or equipment has a safety defect to file a report. This may be done through NHTSA’s telephone hotline, via website, or by mailing a letter. The Administration reviews consumer complaints to determine whether an investigation regarding a potential safety defect is warranted.
NHTSA can order automobile recalls, requiring manufacturers to notify consumers and to repair, replace, or refund the defective product.
If NHTSA believes that an automobile or equipment has a safety defect, they may order the manufacturer to recall the product. The manufacturer can challenge the Administration’s findings in federal court. In addition, if the manufacturer fails to comply with the Administration’s order, the Administration can request that the court compel them to do so. In some cases, the manufacturer will voluntarily recall the vehicle or equipment.
Once a vehicle or equipment is deemed to have a safety defect by the NHTSA, the manufacturer is required to repair, replace, or refund the product. In addition, they are required to notify consumers within a reasonable period of time and to provide information which includes: the nature of the safety defect, the associated risks and hazards as well as, when, where, and how to repair, replace, or obtain a refund for the product.
Consumers of automobiles and equipment that have been deemed to have a safety defect may also pursue legal remedies for injuries they sustained as a result of the defect. If you have been injured as a result of a safety defect in an automobile or equipment, you should contact an attorney immediately.